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    Tachikawa Airfield (Tachikawa Air Base) Tokyo Japan

Sentaro Iwata 1944


USAAF April 1945


USAAF April 29, 1945
Location
Lat 35° 42' 39N Long 139° 24' 11E  Tachikawa Airfield is located at an elevation of 312' above sea level in Tachikawa roughly sixteen miles west of Tokyo in the Tokyo Metropolis (Tokyo Prefecture) of Honshū in Japan. To the south seventeen miles away is Atsugi Airfield. Postwar known as Tachikawa Air Base. Today known as Tachikawa Airport.

Construction
Tachikawa Airfield was first used as a landing ground for military aircraft in the early 1920s when used by a Japanese Army flying squadron. By the late 1920s, developed into a civilian airfield and expanded for military use by the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) with two parallel runways measuring 4,500' and 5,000'.

Wartime History
On March 14, 1922 the first Japanese Army units arrived at Tachikawa including a flying squadron of Maurice Farman aircraft and balloon squadron under the command of Colonel Arikawa, plus a material depot under the command of Colonel Arikawa.

Starting in 1929 Japan's first scheduled air service began between Tachikawa to Osaka. During 1933 civil aviation transfered to Haneda Airfield. During November 1933, the Ishikawajima Aircraft Manufacturing Company move to Tachikawa Airfield and during 1939 was renamed Tachikawa Hikoki K. K. (Tachikawa Aircraft Company) built aircraft at this location.

In 1937, Mitsubishi Ki-15 "Kamikaze" piloted by Masaaki Iinuma and Kenji Tsukagoshi took off Tachikawa Airfield on a flight around the world flight to London to congratulate King George VI on his coronation.

Wartime History
During April 1939, the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) established the Tokorozawa Army Aviation Maintenance School and the Tachikawa Army Air Arsenal (1st Army Air Arsenal). This airfield was used by the Rikugun Kokugijutsu (Army Aero Research Institute) to study captured Allied aircraft and test new Japanese designs. Captured B-17D Flying Fortress 40-3095 operated from Tachikawa during the middle of 1942.

Japanese units based at Tachikawa
Rikugun Kokugijutsu (Army Aero Research Institute)
Da-Ichi Rikusun (1st Army Air Arsenal / Tachikawa Army Air Arsenal)

During 1945, Tachikawa was targeted by B-29 Superfortresses and bombed until unservicable. At the end of the war, most of the facilities at the airfield were destroyed or heavily damaged.

American missions against Tachikawa
April 3, 1945–June 4, 1945

Postwar
On September 5, 1945 occupied by American forces and repaired for use by transport aircraft and a logistical base for Air Transport Command (ATC). Repaired by January 1, 1946 for use by C-47 and C-46, Tachikawa was managed by the 1503rd Army Air Force Base Unit (1503rd AAFBU). By April 1946 expanded to handle C-54 Skymaster plus other improvements. By November 1946 runway day and night lighting was installed.

In 1947, Seven Air Force Service Command, Japan Air Material Area (JAMA) was established in the eastern portion of the airfield and later redesignated Far East Air Material Command (FEAMCOM) and provided air depot services for aircraft.

During 1948, the first major mission by the 1503rd AAFBU was the evacuation of large numbers of Americans and Chinese Nationalist out of China during the Chinese Civil War ahead of advancing Chinese Communists forces.

The western half of the base became Tachikawa Air Base, while FEAMCOM took the eastern part. By 1956, the two halves merged into a single base known simply as "Tachikawa Air Base". Material Air Transport Service (MATS) Aerial Port was located at Tachikawa.

After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, plans were made to close Tachikawa for budgetary reasons. Tachikawa was officially closed for budgetary reasons on September 30, 1977 (Special Order GA-45, Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces, 27 September 1977). On November 30, 1977, Tachikawa Air Base was returned to the Japanese Government.

American units based at Tachikawa
540th Air Transport Wing, 1503rd Army Air Force Base Unit (1503rd AAFBU)

Today
Operated by the Japanese Ministry of Defense as a military airfield. The main runway measures 2,953' surfaced with asphalt concrete. Airport code: ICAO: RJTC.

References
Departure of Special Attack Corps, Kamikaze from Tachikawa Airfield by Sentaro Iwata

Postwar
On September 5, 1945 occupied by American forces.

During the late 1950s known as "Tachikawa Air Base".

After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, plans were made to close Tachikawa for budgetary reasons. Tachikawa was officially closed for budgetary reasons on September 30, 1977 (Special Order GA-45, Headquarters, Pacific Air Forces, 27 September 1977). On November 30, 1977, Tachikawa Air Base was returned to the Japanese Government.

Today
Operated by the Japanese Ministry of Defense as a military airfield. The main runway measures 2,953' surfaced with asphalt concrete. Airport code: ICAO: RJTC.

References
Departure of Special Attack Corps, Kamikaze from Tachikawa Airfield by Sentaro Iwata

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Last Updated
April 23, 2020

 

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